I love reading Elizabeth Barret Browning’s Sonnet 43 “How Do I Love Thee”. I think first about my wife, children, mom, sister, friends and you, the reader, who adds so much purpose in my life. This sonnet also reflects how I feel about trees.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
Recently I was speaking with Tom Kerr, the editor of Independence Monthly about qualities I seek when looking at real estate.
One quality I pointed out was “I look for trees“. Tom’s conversation on this subject sparked my imagination about the value of trees.
“Logically,” I told Tom, “trees offer logging opportunities”. Sometimes land can be purchased for less than the income logging the trees will bring. Then I have to be honest, even though sustainable logging can help a forest, Merri and I have not been able to bring ourselves to log a single live tree for the 20+ years we have been on our farm.
There are so many other ways to profit from trees. “Let me count the ways”.
First, there are health benefits.
An article at the National Library of Medicine “What’s in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light ” (1) show that color has an impact on our well being and health.
The article says: A major milestone came with the 1998 discovery of melanopsin retinal ganglion cells, a new type of photoreceptor in the eye. These cells provide signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the brain’s master clock. They project to many other brain regions as well, influencing myriad aspects of human physiology.
Researchers have shown in humans that light influences hormone secretion, heart rate, alertness, sleep propensity, body temperature and gene expression.
Another article at Livescience.com “Does the color green boost exercises effects?” (2) zeros in on some health benefits from the color of green.
Working out in the great outdoors may produce more psychological benefits than hitting the gym, suggest researchers who say that “green exercise” may boost mood, self-esteem, motivation and enjoyment. But according to a new study, the positive effects of green exercise may have more to do with the color green than with being surrounded by nature.
The study is the first to show that the color green may contribute to the feel-good benefits of outdoor exercise, the researchers said. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in August.
In other words, we gain health benefits from blue skies and green forests!
I definitely make sure I surround myself with green when I exercise.
Exercising by the oak in our Florida front yard. We have numerous huge oaks at our Florida home. One grows right through the middle of our houses. This tree makes an absolute mess of leaves every year. We love it!
I use trees in play.
My grandson, Garren, and me in a tree house we built in our back yard.
When my brain won’t fire right in North Carolina I pack up my computer, get the hounds and go work while sitting under a tree.
The satellite image above is of our house at the farm. The house is at the top of the lower left meadow. This sums up how we like trees.
The hundred year + oak below at the entrance of our Florida house, and six others around including the one growing in the middle of the house sold us on our home.
We earn income from wood. I have never been able to log live trees but when they fall on their own, we harvest them and put them through a portable mill.
The wood is cured and used for different things.
We used this lot from a big poplar that died behind our house. We used it to build our meditation and exercise Forest Room (below).
The view from the deck is perfect. I lay on my yoga mat and look up at all…
the trees and blue sky.
Most summer days we eat on our porch while looking at trees. (The porch table by the way came from a tree we salvaged on the farm.) We build and sell them to add a bit of income to the local economy.
That’s the science, health and profit in trees but the deeper quality is reflected in the arts. The book Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way by Lars Mytting sums this up with this poem by Hans Børli:
The scent of fresh wood
is among the last things you will forget when the veil falls.
the scent of fresh white wood
in the spring sap time:
as though life itself walked by you,
with dew in its hair.
That sweet and naked smell
kneeling woman-soft and blond
in the silence inside you,
using your bones for
a willow flute.
With the hard frost beneath your tongue
you look for the fire to light a word,
and know, mild as southern wind in the mind,
there is still one thing in the world
you can trust. — Hans Børli
A March 2017 National Geographic article “What We Can Learn from Trees?” (3) also shows and tells why we should look upon trees with wonder.
One of the trees that article shows is…
a Montezuma cypress known as el Árbol del Tule. The trunk, 119 feet in circumference and roughly 38 feet in diameter, supports a crown the size of almost two tennis courts.
Here is another spectacular lesson we can learn from trees the article shares.
This Pando clone featured in the National Geographic spread is described:
Made up of 47,000 tree trunks covering 106 acres and weighing some 13 million pounds, is real. It’s a single organism, a quaking aspen that began life as a single seed—possibly tens of thousands of years ago—and spread by sending up shoots from an expanding root system. (Pando is Latin for “I spread.”) Each trunk is genetically identical and no more than 150 years old, but the root system may be the oldest living organism on the planet.
That’s quite a lesson in longevity, of harmony and unity. Maybe we should look harder at the wisdom of trees in our modern divisive world!
Whatever your reason for looking at real estate, to live on, to profit from or to protect, next time you look, stop for a moment (or two) and reflect on how many ways you can love the trees.
Learn about Independence Monthly below, a publication that can help you live a simpler, richer life among trees.